Preparing a Chronology

The preparation of a “chronology” offers you the opportunity to organize your thoughts and present them in a coherent, logical fashion, and provides us with a factual resource to which we can refer throughout the case. We often use the chronology in preparing a draft Complaint to be filed with the Court, and in preparing responses to questions asked by the defendant in discovery. Please remember that it is important to be as complete as possible — strong points and weak points — to allow us to provide you with the most effective representation possible.

  1. This chronology is confidential. This chronology is made exclusively for your attorneys. This, as well as everything else you discuss with your attorney, is privileged from disclosure only if you do not show or share this information with anyone else. Then it is considered a waiver, which has very serious implications. Guard all information (written and verbal) exchanged with your attorney carefully!
  2. Put everything in order by the date it happened. If you cannot remember the exact date, try to put down the month and year. If you are not sure what month something happened, try to identify whether it happened before or after some other incident in the chronology.
  3. Identify people by their full names whenever possible, and include their job titles if you know them. If more than one company is involved, identify their employer. If applicable, identify the individual’s supervisory relationship to you.
  4. Start from the beginning when you were first hired, and include your job title and the name of your supervisor. If you were hired by one company, which was then bought by or merged with another company, give the names of both companies and include the change of ownership in the chronology.
  5. Include any written or verbal performance reviews you may have had. Include any other ways that your employer evaluated how well you were doing your job (for example achieving sales goals, letters of criticism or congratulations, audits, etc.).
  6. Include any raises or bonuses that you received, stock options or grants, or other monetary forms of recognition of achievement.
  7. Include any awards or special recognition that you earned.
  8. If you were ever disciplined (such as demoted or suspended) include the details of why you were disciplined.
  9. If there was a change in the people who worked around you, or the person who was your supervisor, include that, and any changes that happened as a result of this personnel change.
  10. If you changed jobs within the company, (either a promotion or a lateral move) identify the new job title and explain how you obtained the new job (filled out an application form, interview, recommendation, etc.).
  11. Include any incidents where you believed you were treated unfairly or differently because of your sex, your race, your religion, or a disability, or in retaliation because you complained of discriminatory treatment or sexual harassment. Be very specific as to when you complained, to whom and the result. Where possible, include as specifically as possible the language used, the names and positions held by the persons involved and any witnesses, and any actions taken by anyone involved.
  12. Include any other evidence of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or violations of law. This includes any jokes or comments by supervisors or co-workers which were offensive to you and any behavior which was offensive. Describe any effects these incidents had on your job performance and your personal life. Make sure to include any complaint or other response you made about these acts.
  13. Be as detailed as possible about the events which are the reason for your lawsuit (such as specific acts of harassment, or being terminated.)
  14. Include a list of witnesses, both favorable and unfavorable. Please include each witnesses’ address, telephone numbers, positions held and a summary of the knowledge of those witnesses. Indicate whether you believe each witness will cooperate with your counsel.
  15. Describe fully your damages in the following categories:
    a) loss of income (include date income decreased or ceased and indicate whether you received any severance and the amount, be certain to give the amount of your salary at the time the income decreased or ceased;
    b) loss of benefits (health, life, dental, eye care, pension, stock options, stock grants, 401K contributions, profit sharing) – list fully all benefits including any contribution you or the employer were making; list the amount you are paying for COBRA or other benefits now;
    c) any expenses you have incurred that you would not have, had you continued to be employed;
    d) the value of any stock options or other similar items (please include strike price of options, estimated market price, and how long you have to exercise the options after termination [this information should be included in your employer’s StockPlan or similar document);
    e) try to describe the emotional distress you have suffered (this may include how it has affected your life, family, self-esteem, financial concerns, etc.) if you have seen any professional, please let us know the name, address and dates of treatment;
    f) describe any physical distress you have suffered as a result of the unfair treatment (e.g. headaches, sleeplessness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, weight loss, stomach aches);
    g) the amount of unemployment benefits you have received (make & send copies of each check you receive).
  16. You have a duty to mitigate your damages. Please describe fully your efforts to become reemployed. Try to keep copies of your resume, letters sent or received, copies of the specific advertisements and lists of places you sent your resume or employment application. (Be very careful to be completely accurate on your resume and employment applications.)
  17. Include anything else you think may be relevant to your case, including comparisons to how others were treated, illegal activities of the company, etc.
  18. Include anything in your past history that may cause you concern, may be relevant to your current claims or you otherwise feel you should let us know. For example, if you have alleged discrimination or other claims against a previous (or the same) employer; if you have been terminated prior to this; if you have ever been warned about conduct similar to that conduct which allegedly gave rise to your termination; if you have ever been involved in a lawsuit before (as plaintiff or defendant); if you have a criminal record; or if you have been the victim of sexual or physical abuse or other crimes, include this information.
  19. Because you will be claiming emotional and physical distress, the defendant may be entitled to obtain copies of your medical and psychological records (there is no doctor-patient privilege recognized in Virginia ). Please list the names, addresses, type of doctor or therapist and dates of treatment for the past 15 years.

Gathering Documents 

Please try to pull together all documents relating in any way to your employment (even if you think it is not relevant, it may be). This includes any employee handbooks or policies, letters, memos, charts, work product and the like. Also include your resume, your W-2s for the past 3 years, copies of your pay stubs if you have become recently re-employed, a copy of your last pay stub, copies of unemployment or disability checks, awards, certificates, plaques, bonus checks, stock grants, options agreements, stock plans, benefit statements, 401K or pension statements, contracts, confidentiality agreements, newsletters, corporate financial statements, annual reports, performance evaluations, pictures, videotapes, computer disks, directories and anything else you can think of.

In this age of electronics, computers and emails, it is critical that you thoroughly search all computer data bases you have legal and appropriate access to, to ensure you have printed out, or copied, all relevant documents. In the event you have sent or received emails from your work email address, it is highly likely the employer will be able to access and print all of these emails prior to or during the course of litigation. It is far better for you to have copied and reviewed these in advance, and provided them to counsel, than to be surprised by something later in the litigation. Please be sure to be thorough and inclusive.

It will not help you to withhold any documents you believe may be harmful to your case or cast you in a poorer light. To the contrary, the most effective way to evaluate your claims, and to represent you in your best interests and to the best of the firm’s ability, is if you have been completely candid and forthcoming about ALL information at the outset. Any negative documents or information will harm you far less if it is known upfront, than discovered at some later point.

We prefer to keep the originals during the course of the litigation, as the Courts may require the original to be available for review under certain circumstances. Please bring in all of the documents at your earliest possible convenience. Where you have tapes, computer disks, or other electronic data, please be sure to provide us with a good copy, while retaining one for your records. Once the litigation starts, it moves quickly and we will be better able to assist you if we have the documents early. If you need copies of any of the documents, make copies before you bring them to us, or call us and we will help you locate and copy any as the need arises.

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